Cold Sake

What are you drinking with sushi?

Otokoyama has been making sake for over 340 years on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, which has ideal climate and water conditions needed to make superior sake.

There are five elements involved in brewing sake – water, rice, technical skill, yeast, and terrior. More than anything else, sake is a result of a brewing process that uses rice and lots of water. For a terrific lesson on all things sake, please visit

It is customary to pour sake for one’s table companions. Here it is served from this nifty vessel with ice in the center. As with wine, you don’t want the sake too cold, or the delicate fragrance and flavors will be masked.
Vinography blog has excellent tasting notes on Otokoyama:
A floral nose with hints of jasmine tea and just the tiniest hints of fresh pink bubblegum. It is smooth and extremely silky in texture with lovely acidity and a floral, rainwater quality that makes for an incredibly clean experience on the palate.

Otokoyama, translation “Man’s Mountain,” is one of my favorites.


Château Cos d’Estournel St. Estephe 1982

A 25 Year-Old Bordeaux with Christmas Dinner.

“Just like a novel writer can be the same and yet different through his works, a Grand Cru can express the same style through its different vintages.

Impressive in its youth by the intensity of its structure and the strength of its fruit, the wine of Cos evolves slowly to reach a wonderful melting quality and an aromatic complexity when it comes to complete maturity.

Great vintages of Cos d’Estournel can have an exceptionally long life, sometimes exceeding a hundred years.” Cos website

And an Old-Fashioned Christmas Dinner Menu:

Traditional Relish Tray, that spins 🙂
Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Port Wine Demi-Glace
Potatoes with Sour Cream & Horseradish
Carrots, Parsnips & Sweet Potatoes with Butter and Parsley
Steamed Green Beans
Roasted Beets
Eleanor’s Delicious Home-Baked Desserts & Cookies
Served on Virginia’s Christmas China

My Wine Notes:
60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot
The cork: in fine shape, just slightly crumbly. Using an ah-so was helpful.
First impression: deep inky-purple color, surprising.
Bouquet: underwhelming.
Taste: austere to begin. But over time of about 3 hours it became more and more intriguing. Smooth with balanced acidity. There was certainly fruit there, but specific fruit flavors were not evident.
Overall: this wine is mature, not flamboyant, elegant, with a lingering finish and surprisingly no sediment. Quite enjoyable.

A special thank you to Lou and Lauren for including me in their family celebration.

Where were you in 1982?
I was working for the old Velvet Turtle Restaurants.
Beef Wellington was one of our signature dishes back then.

SEA SMOKE World-Class Pinot Noir

We thoroughly enjoyed a bottle of the rich and elegant Sea Smoke TEN 2005 Pinot Noir at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica.
Appellation: Santa Barbara County, Santa Rita Hills.
Named after the afternoon marine fog (sea ‘smoke’).

From their website:
The 2005 Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir shows deep extraction and intensity of flavor, maintains good balance across the palate, and culminates in a firm, but velvety finish. Aromas of dark plum, black cherry, currants, as well as cedar and a hint of earthiness are characteristic of this wine.

At Sea Smoke we believe that the vineyard is the wine. For this reason, we produce Pinot Noir grown exclusively on our estate vineyard.

100% Pinot Noir (Ten Clones, from which the wine takes its name)

We recommend decanting thirty to sixty minutes prior to drinking, particularly if consumed before 2009.

Wine Recommendation for Thanksgiving Dinner

We visited the Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, California. I was impressed with all their wines. They are dedicated to growing wine varietals traditional to France’s RhĂ´ne Valley. All Tablas Creek wines are estate grown using environmentally sensitive, sustainable practices. They chose the Paso Robles area because of its hilly terrain, limestone soils, and ocean influence.

I saw a bottle of the CĂ´tes de Tablas at Bristol Farms the other day, it was selling for $22.99. I am going serve it as one of my Thanksgiving wines, as it would certainly complement the turkey dinner.

Tablas Creek Vineyard CĂ´tes de Tablas is a blend of four estate-grown RhĂ´ne varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Counoise and Mourvedre. Like most wines of the Southern RhĂ´ne, it is a blend of varietals, featuring the fruitiness of Grenache balanced by the spice and structure of Syrah, with meaty, earthy notes from Mourvedre and Counoise. The 2004 CĂ´tes de Tablas has a juicy berry nose of currants, raspberries, licorice and spice. The mouth is full of rich, sweet Grenache fruit showing good acidity and a long finish.

I also recommend these wonderful wine tumblers by Riedel Crystal. Great for everyday use, as they can go in the dishwasher.

What are you serving with The Bird this year?

Peter Michael Chardonnay

2004 Peter Michael La Carrière
“The spectacular Chardonnay La Carrière is becoming one of my favorite California Chardonnays, as it tastes like a Corton-Charlemagne on steroids… it possesses that extraordinary minerality, orange marmalade, and layered, full-bodied, concentrated palate. This beauty is a great expression of stone fruits and higher elevation, cool climate Chardonnay. It should drink well for 4-5 years.”
-Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

After thoroughly enjoying the 2004 at the Water Grill, I was thrilled to see the 2005 on the wine list at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California last night. Both delicious (at this time I prefer the 2004).